Geoffrey Large, RAF Officer, Celebrates his 100th Birthday at Brendoncare Otterbourne Hill

Geoffrey Large celebrating his 100th birthday at Brendoncare Otterbourne Hill

Geoffrey Large, a resident at Brendoncare Otterbourne Hill, celebrated his 100th birthday on 15 March 2021.

To celebrate such a milestone in lockdown, the team at the care home made sure it was a special day for Geoffrey. There was a tea party and his son, Tony, was able to join in the celebrations too. There was a special birthday cake and buffet with all his friends at Brendoncare Otterbourne Hill, and lots of bunting and balloons to brighten up the day.

Geoffrey said,

“It was a lovely day and I really enjoyed sharing it with my son, Tony, and all the staff and my friends at Otterbourne Hill.”

Tony Large, commented,

“I was so glad the Covid lockdown eased enough for me to visit Dad again, and seeing Dad on his 100th Birthday, having missed his 99th, was wonderful. The Otterbourne Hill staff made it a special day for us, and a lovely cake in the shape of an aeroplane too.”

Geoffrey was born at home in Thornton Heath, Surrey on 15 March 1921.  One of his early and vivid memories was watching his father, a salesman, travelling by horse and carriage to the shops all over London.

In 1937, at the age of 16 Geoffrey joined the GPO as a Trainee Telephone Engineer based in the Victoria Telephone Exchange, London. He went on to obtain City & Guilds certificates in Technical Electricity, Telephony, Lines Transmission and Circuit Design. During the early part WWII, he managed to dodge the bombs whilst repairing telephone lines. He even had to clear a fault on a top secret phone line at Whitehall. Whilst working at the Exchange, he met his wife, Peggie, and they married in 1944. 

He joined the RAF in 1941 and completed his flying training in Canada in July 1942, learning on single engine Tiger Moths, before progressing to twin engine Airspeed Oxfords. 

After receiving his wings he was posted to Dorval Airport, Montreal, HQ of the then RAF Ferry Command, for transatlantic ferrying duties. He delivered new American aircraft to the UK, via the Ascension Island to West Africa and the Middle East. He was appointed as a Pilot Officer in August 1943.  He continued flying across the South Atlantic delivering a variety of twin engine American aircraft, from the easy to fly Lockheed Hudson to the difficult Martin B26 Marauder, before qualifying on multi engine aircraft and flying the Consolidated B24 Liberator heavy bomber.

At the end of the War he was posted to Burma and India, before flying Prisoners of War back to the UK from all over Europe in twin engine Douglas DC3 Dakotas. Following a brief stint with British European Airways (BEA), he joined Air Traffic Control at Croydon Airport. He was one of the few to have flown into and out of Croydon Airport as a pilot, and also working as an Air Traffic Controller there, experiencing ATC from both sides!

His Air Traffic Control career kept him in the South of England, working in Air Traffic Control Centres.  He retired from what was by then NATS, (National Air Traffic Services) as Watch Manager in 1983, after 37 years in Air Traffic Control.

In 2007 after his dear wife Peggy passed away in 2004, he moved to Chandler’s Ford in Hampshire, with his son and family. In Chandler’s Ford, he joined Probus and a local branch of the Aircrew Association.  Sadly, his Advanced Macular Degeneration continued to affect his eyesight, and he benefitted from the Blind Veterans charity, with holiday stays at their lovely home outside Brighton.

The two recent highlights were invitations from Blind Veterans UK to attend The Not Forgotten Association’s annual Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in 2017, and a trip to Farnborough Airport. By coincidence, the Red Arrows were at assembled at Farnborough Airport ready for a flying display. When they heard that Geoffrey was ex RAF, the pilots all came to meet him, and he was thrilled to have his photo taken with them. 

For the last two years Geoffrey has been a resident at Brendoncare Otterbourne Hill.

About Brendoncare

Brendoncare Otterbourne Hill, is run by the Winchester based charity, The Brendoncare Foundation, and offers three core services: a 64 bed care home providing nursing and dementia care, respite and end of life care; 20 purpose-built apartments for individuals and couples affected by dementia, enabling them to live together in their own home with ‘shared’ care, and a friendly community and resource hub providing a dynamic and friendly space for residents and people from the local community.

More information about Brendoncare Otterbourne Hill can be found on the charity’s website www.brendoncare.org.uk, 01962 679649, otterbournehill@brendoncare.org.uk